martenitsaWe, Bulgarians celebrate on March 1 a centuries-old tradition and exchange martenitsi on what is called the day of Baba Marta.

The tradition of giving friends red-and-white interwoven strings brings health and happiness during the year and is a reminder that spring is near. Martenitsi are worn from Baba Marta Day until the wearer first sees a stork, swallow, or blossoming tree (or until late March).

The name of the holiday means "Grandma March" in Bulgarian and the holiday is inscribed in 2017 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The red and white woven threads symbolize the wish for good health. They are the heralds of the coming of spring and of new life. While white as a color symbolizes purity, red is a symbol of life and passion, and so some ethnologists have proposed that, in its very origins, the custom might have reminded people of the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and evil, and the sorrow and happiness in human life.

The Martenitsa is also a stylized symbol of Mother Nature, the white symbolizing the purity of the melting white snow and the red setting of the sun, which becomes more and more intense as spring progresses.

These two natural resources are the source of life. They are also associated with the male and female beginnings, and in their balance, with the need for balance in life.